Wayland to offer three graduate degrees online

PLAINVIEW – Wayland Baptist University will begin offering its first completely online degrees in the next term after gaining approval from its accrediting agency.

Earlier this month, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools approved the proposal that Wayland offer three master’s degrees from the university in the areas of human resource management, public administration and Christian ministry, all completely available through the Internet.

The Master of Christian Ministry and the Master of Public Administration degrees will be offered online beginning in the November winter term in conjunction with the Virtual Campus, which operates on a quarterly term schedule. The 11-week terms will feature several courses applicable toward the degrees. The Master of Arts in Management degree with the specialization in Human Resources Management will be offered in the spring term, also following the Virtual Campus schedule.

Wayland has been offering individual classes online since 1998 but has never offered a full degree. What started as a way to supplement materials for business courses evolved into courses being offered online. According to Dr. David Howle, director of the Virtual Campus for the past three years, the move to an online degree is a natural progression.

“There’s been a growth in administrative understanding of the potential for this, and that has spurred (online degrees) to happen sooner. Folks are opening up to the idea that this can be done with integrity and students can have the same Wayland experience,” Howle said, adding, “Our fall term had the largest enrollment we’ve ever had with more than 1,800 enrollments or 1,200 students. The winter term will have 110 sections available.”

Dr. Bobby Hall, provost and vice president for academic services and graduate studies, said the fully online offerings represent several years of work by many members of Wayland’s faculty and administrators.

“The combined efforts of many members of the Wayland community have made this possible,” said Hall. “Dr. Howle has done a masterful job in leading the Virtual Campus to this achievement. Division chairpersons Dr. Otto B. Schacht, Dr. Estelle Owens, Dr. Paul Sadler and his predecessor, Dr. Fred Meeks, worked diligently with their faculty to design an outstanding educational experience. Members of the Virtual Campus Task Force and the directors and employees in almost every Wayland staff office are also to be commended for their contributions. Obviously, we are excited about Wayland's future.”

Hall was positive about the extended reach that online degrees would allow Wayland to have, both to areas without Christian education readily accessible and to current student populations who need the schedule flexibility that online coursework provides.

“Such programs make it possible for previously unreached students around the world to benefit from a Wayland education. We will also be better able to serve many existing students, particularly military students facing deployment or relocation,” Hall said. “While traditional face-to-face courses will always lie at the focal point of higher education, the growth of online education nationally makes it apparent that the university poised for future success will also have a robust online component. We intend to implement additional online degree programs in the future.”

The MPA, approved just this past summer, will be formatted in order to allow individuals to complete the 37-hour degree in as little as two years. The degree is aimed at those seeking careers or advancement in justice administration or government administration, and two tracks are offered depending on the student’s focus. The degree focuses on both justice administration issues and business and ethics coursework to give students a well-rounded foundation in the fields of justice or government.

The degree meets a need for the region as more jobs in justice administration fields and in government come available and more current employees seek to advance into administrative roles. The online format makes the degree easier to work around a full-time job, regardless of the shift worked.

The MCM degree has been offered for several years as a practical Biblical study degree for those entering or currently in ministry. The degree has been offered in Plainview and on several other Wayland campuses and many courses will still be available in the traditional classroom setting on those campuses.

“We are excited about making our degree more accessible to people around the world,” said Dr. Paul Sadler, chair of the Division of Religion and Philosophy. “It’s a way for us to offer help to those in outlying areas not just in their educational goals, but also in ministering to them and encouraging them through those courses.”

The MAM will be offered online through a cohort program in the Division of Business, offered solely through the Plainview campus. Currently only the specialization in Human Resource Management will be available online. The MAM – HRM will be advertised on military installations that do not currently have a Wayland presence.

“We are striving to attract students that have not previously had a relationship with Wayland Baptist University. Our intent is to ‘Light the Way’ in places untraveled by WBU,” said Schacht, business division chair. The program, he added, was designed not to compete with any of the existing programs in place.

Admissions requirements for the online degrees are consistent with current graduate admissions, including an admissions application, transcripts from previously attended universities showing receipt of the bachelor’s degree and any required graduate entrance exam scores.

For more information on the online degrees, contact the office of graduate services and records at (806) 291-3414, Schacht at 291-1022, Sadler at 291-1163 or Owens at 291-1171.